Last week, we started discussing the importance of not erecting a wall between combat and non-combat actions as well as making non-combat actions have an impact during combat. This week, more things you as a GM (and as a player) can do to be effective in combat instead of attacking.
Generating options as both the player and GM…
There are a lot of things to do other than fighting while in combat. However, what you want to do isn’t always what you can do. Using the Cutt example again, I knew Cutt couldn’t leave the ship and aid his team directly since we established how long putting on a spacesuit took in the last game. I also knew our ship’s weapons were offline.
Rather than focusing on what I couldn’t do, I started considering what I could do- AND what the GM would appreciate.
Cutt started by ordering the NPC crew around, optimizing their positions and duties. Cutt even sent a droid down to the cargo bay and opened the door to space, allowing the droid to fly out and catch a drifting party member if something knocked them off course. When I did something, the GM noted my actions and made adjustments that made it feel like my turn actually changed the round, much like hitting an enemy with a weapon changes the feeling of the round.
… but those options may not be what you expect or want
As a player or a GM, you have to be willing to manipulate your idea to fit the situation. For instance, let’s say you have a character that likes to use the environment to their advantage. You do a perception check to find something useful, but the GM tells you there’s nothing you can use. Don’t roll another perception check hoping to find something else. Move on. Try a new idea. Just because it isn’t your first idea doesn’t mean it won’t be a useful one.
As the GM in that situation, give the player something to work with. Even if it isn’t exactly what they wanted.
Originally, Cutt’s plan was to ram the prison ship, creating a hole so his party members could escape into space and get back on our ship. But the GM offered some information that made me think of an idea that was less likely to damage our ship. I wasn’t quite sure if he was trying to give me options or drop a hint, but I went with the new option instead. However, I also knew he had given me enough options to try my plan to ram the ship if I wanted to. I also knew he had no problem killing Cutt if I did something foolish, such as breaching the haul and getting sucked out into space.
If the rule doesn’t exist (or it would take too long to look up), work with what you know
Non-conventional tactics aren’t always part of the rules. Here is a small list of things players have done that the system we were using did not have rules for:
– Plug the chimney to a steam-powered hydra
– Find the cure to fix the boss monster rather than fight it
– Jump from their horse and dropkick a foe off his horse
– Strap themselves to a wheel, try and remain balanced, and roll down a hill
– Pull the rug out from under a foe
– Use household items to craft a bomb their character would know how to make.
– Figure out how effective a helmet made out of an animatronic bear head is
– Handcuff a foe rather than attack them
All of those actions made sense in-game and in context. However, there might not be a rule for jumping off your horse, dropkicking a man off his horse, and then landing on his now unoccupied horse. The GM was quick to think of a solution using other rules for the d20 game they were running.
The player had to:
– Make an acrobatics check. DC X meant he didn’t fall off his own horse. DC X + Y meant he would land on the other horse after the attack.
– Touch attack to hit the foe
– Strength check to overpower the foe and knock him off the horse
If the rule doesn’t exist, use the mechanics the system has that make sense. If you find out the way you did it is wrong or over/underpowered, let the players know how it will be done differently next time.
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